Young people from across East Sussex, aged 12-20, have been involved in developing a brand-new website for Discovery College, a partnership of different organisations, headed by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. The College creates and delivers co-produced courses that any young person in East Sussex can join, to look after their mental health, enjoy themselves, be with other young people, and build their skills – including website design!

The website was created by 13 participants on one of these courses, Designing Together, to communicate what Discovery College is and does, working with web designer Ross Andrews Clifford (Junction 44) and web developer Chloe Taylor (Little Blue House).

“It has been an extraordinary collaboration,” reflects Catherine Orbach, project manager at Lewes-based arts charity Culture Shift, “with young people shaping the content of the website, making it far more than a simple ‘shop window’ for Discovery College – which runs courses in different locations across the county. Across every page of the site young people’s voices come through, sharing their experience and their tips for managing all aspects of mental health from anxiety to depression and loneliness. 

Catherine explains that this has never been more needed and that the website provides opportunities for interaction that “bubble across every page”.

Co-design is the guiding principle for Discovery College, a sister programme to Recovery College. Young people with lived experience of mental health challenges play a key role in designing the programme of arts and psycho-educational courses to support young people’s mental health. A new partnership with Culture Shift and support from Arts Council England is enabling Discovery College to expand and grow.

The core team delivering the project have been quite amazed and delighted
by the experience. Rivkah Cummerson, Participation Lead at Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) said she was really nervous about embarking on the project as an online collaboration due
to Covid-19 restrictions: “I couldn’t have been more surprised by the patience and enthusiasm of everyone involved.”

According to Rivkah, the young people they work with have consistently said how they want to show their communities and the world that experiencing mental health challenges is not a barrier to having strengths, talent, hopes and aspirations. “Through the website they can now share this and more with us and, like everyone else involved with the project, I am delighted with the result.”

Commenting on “a really switched-on group of young people”, Ross Andrews Clifford and Chloe Taylor, said: “Everyone ought to be proud of what they achieved in creating a dynamic and interactive resource and information website … which will bring awareness to its uniquely supportive role within the mental health arena for vulnerable young people.”

The website helps shine a light on a support programme for young people and the evolving programme of arts and psycho-education courses. It is part of a partnership between Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, CAMHS and Culture Shift, and has been made possible by funds from Arts Council England.

The new website can be viewed here: sussexdiscoverycollege.org.uk


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